Grief Talk w/ Vonne Solis

Keeping Your Kids Safe from Tech Troubles!

July 20, 2022 Vonne Solis/Andrea Davis Season 1 Episode 3
Grief Talk w/ Vonne Solis
Keeping Your Kids Safe from Tech Troubles!
Show Notes Transcript

This is an informative, enlightening and impacting conversation with Andrea Davis from Better Screen Time, about the current state of the tech environment, and the challenges today's parents face to protect their children from the threats. This is a robust conversation covering the generational harm that has arisen from the dependency of parents and their children on tech (from babies to teens) for the last two decades, to the very real threats lurking on platforms, apps and the dark web today, luring countless children and teens to harmful patterns of behaviour, other dangers and even their death.
 
Andrea is a former secondary ed teacher turned screentime navigator and the founder of Better Screen Time, where she shares family tested ideas from the tech trenches. As a mom of five, Andrea is on a mission to help parents worry less about tech and connect more with their kids. If you are a concerned parent or just want to know more about this topic, you don't want to miss this episode!
 
 Vonne Solis  0:00  Welcome and introduction to Andrea.
 Andrea Davis  1:41  Andrea shares her concerns as a parent and the actions she took to create her own family tech plan that led her to create Better Screen Time.
Vonne Solis  6:25 Vonne shares what the tech was like 25 years ago.
Vonne Solis  7:35  Question, what are parents struggling with today by various age groups?
Andrea Davis  9:37  Andrea explains the pressures that parents feel to parent with tech, the effects on children's brains based on current research, and what children 0 to six years need.
Andrea Davis  14:00  The effects of tech on kids as they get older from six years up and into their mid 20's.
Vonne Solis  17:54  Questions: Are parents afraid to talk to their kids about tech? What can they do when they lack confidence?
Andrea Davis 18:56  Andrea describes the two major things parents can do to have the conversation and start to manage the tech in their child's life, even when they think it's too late.
 Vonne Solis  22:13  Questions: At the point parents think it's too late, what are they struggling with the most?  Should kids agree to a tech plan?
 Andrea Davis  23:23  Andrea shares what parents can do when they believe it's too late to manage their child's tech or they've discovered one or more major problems in their child's life as a result of their tech use.
 Vonne Solis  26:43  Vonne and Andrea discuss choice and consequences and parenting with confidence.
Andrea Davis  28:16  Andrea explains the difference in tech use between girls and boys.
Vonne Solis  29:53  Last question: How does Andrea monitor her kids' tech use?
  Andrea Davis  31:25  Andrea answers the question and describes the challenges they still face as parents monitoring backdoor access to forbidden apps and platforms, and several tips to help parents get started with their own family tech plan.
 Vonne Solis  40:34   A big thanks to Andrea for all of the wonderful information, tips and resources she has shared.
 Vonne Solis  41:04  Music.

 ANDREA'S WEBSITE:

https://www.betterscreentime.com/

 ANDREA'S BOOK: Creating a Tech Healthy Family
https://www.amazon.com/Creating-Tech-Healthy-Family-Must-Have-Conversations/dp/1734885904

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Vonne Solis  0:00  

Welcome to another episode of Grief Talk, everything you want to know about grief and more. I'm your host Vonne Solis. Today's guest is a former secondary ed teacher turned screentime navigator. We're going to be welcoming Andrea Davis, who is the founder of Better Screen Time, where she shares family tested ideas from the tech trenches as a mom of five. Andrea is on a mission to help parents worry less about tech and connect more with their kids. She and her husband Tyler live in beautiful Hood River Oregon, where they love spending time outdoors as a family. And I can't wait to get this conversation going on a subject matter that is so important. Which is helping parents protect their children from tech troubles. 

 

Vonne Solis  0:46  

Welcome to the show, Andrea, I'm so happy that you're here Andrea. I've been really looking forward to this conversation. And before we get started, I would just like to explain to the viewers that this may not seem like a fitting conversation to have on a podcast called Grief Talk. But the more I got to know Andrea, and the more I learned about the work that she's doing, I see it as a perfect fit. And we'll get into some of the questions as to why I think that may be so largely centered around parental concerns about their kids and tech use. So, stay tuned. This is going to be a really great conversation. So hi, again, Andrea. And I'm gonna get to my first question, which is basically if you could just share with the audience members a little bit about your experience, and why you started Better Screen Time.

 

Andrea Davis  1:41  

Yeah, well, really, this journey started a long time ago when I became a parent. So, I am a mom of five and my oldest just turned 17, which is hard to believe. And when she was just a couple of years old, my husband, we were at Purdue, my husband was working on his PhD there. And we became friends with lots of young couples with little kids like we had. And one of my friends was just a voracious reader, she loves to read. And I asked her one day, what did your parents do to instill this love of reading in you, even though I love to read, but she took it to a whole other level. And she said, we didn't have a TV growing up. And I was like, really, it just kind of fascinated me.

 

Andrea Davis  1:41  

And so, I got curious, and I went home, and I told Tyler, my husband, I said, "What would you think if we just put the TV in the closet? We don't get rid of it, but we just put it away, and we use it (indecipherable) and we'll just pull it out when we want to use it?" And for us that was watching family movies and the Olympics and just things like that. And otherwise, the TV stayed in the closet. And it's crazy. But here we are, like 15 years later and that's still what we do. And so that was kind of our journey of starting to maybe want to take more of a low-tech approach.

 

Andrea Davis  3:04  

Well, fast forward years later, and as we all know, technology has changed so much. And the TV is really the least of our concerns when it comes to parenting. And we now carry these minicomputers in our pockets. And, again, if this isn't something that just adults are using, but we're starting to see these devices in kids hands more and more. Well, our family made a big move from Illinois to Oregon, about five years ago. And at that time, our oldest was in middle school. And she was leaving friends behind. And we all know that's really hard age to move. It's hard to leave friends, it's hard to make new friends. And I also was worried about staying in touch with her. We were living in temporary housing. It was in the middle of winter, there was a ton of snow, I was a lot of canceled school that month. And I just was concerned, she's not going to know where to get off the bus or, you know, I don't know anyone in this town. And so, we handed over just a leftover smartphone that we had to her. And I really did it without a lot of thinking, I guess. I just thought of this as a communication tool. She was a very responsible girl. And so, I just thought she will use this to communicate.

 

Andrea Davis  4:24  

Well, lo and behold, you know, a few months later, she would come home from school and instead of us having a conversation like we used to have, she was suddenly scrolling on this device. And there were all these apps on the phone that I had never even heard of before. And so instead of us engaging in a conversation, she was scrolling through social media, and you know this was a young middle schooler and I just immediately became alarmed. And we had several experiences after that where there were certain apps that got downloaded and I noticed just the content wasn't appropriate for her age. And I was really concerned. And so, we took a step back. And we had a conversation with her that we had made a mistake as parents. That we hadn't prepared her. That we hadn't prepared ourselves for this huge responsibility. And that we were going back to a brick phone, which now even five years later, there are a lot more options for parents. There are smartphones that don't have internet access, but such a thing didn't exist five years ago. So, we went back to just the brick phone and handed that over to her and she was mortified. There were lots of tears on her behalf and ours. But wow, it was just an eye-opening experience for me.

 

Andrea Davis  5:48  

And as I searched for resources, there was a lot of very fear-based information. And I really wasn't finding the answers that I needed, because this is the world that our kids live in. So how do we be kind of low tech, slow tech, because we can't completely keep our kids away from it. I had done a good job of that for a long time. And it works well when kids are young. But eventually, we have to start teaching them, but we can't just throw them out to the wolves, which is what I felt like I had done. And so that was why we started better screen time.

 

Vonne Solis  6:25  

That's amazing, Andrea. And so, as a parent, I'll just say that I started this podcast because I am a bereaved parent, and I did lose a 22 year old daughter to suicide. And the dark web played a significant part of her being coaxed into taking her life and so on. So, nothing like what you're doing in Better Screen Time exists today (existed then). And that would have been close to 23 years ago at the time, because she died 17 years ago in July at 22. So, if you're looking at children today, and we'll get into age ranges of the tech plans that you put in place for families, but it starts much sooner. And back then, so say when she was 13, 14, the internet was just starting to come out. So, we're talking a quarter of a century ago.

 

Andrea Davis  7:34  

Wow.

 

Vonne Solis  7:35  

Yeah. And at the time, we didn't have apps, there was no YouTube, there was no Facebook. But what they did have was chat. And what they did have was websites. And somehow these kids know how to get in the back doors, right. And I've done a little research in that, and I know there's a huge problem with a lot of concerns. You mentioned, I was looking at your website, which I just love. And you mentioned some of the key problems today are things like cyber bullying, depression, anxiety, addiction, pornography. And there is also, if we read news reports and things like that, there is also a key element there, probably, I guess through apps and so on, where, you know, it's coercion. Huge. So, my next question for you, and I don't know much about this because my son is 29, 30 in June, so I'm kind of not in this niche for you. But it's so important for the parents who are worried. And so, I wanted to ask you, what are parents struggling with today? Top, you know, say however many you want to name that they're really concerned with and struggling with. And, if you could just sort of give a general idea of what I'm going to say is an easy solution. That's probably not the right way to describe it, but an obvious solution that a family could readily adapt into their tech plan for their kids. You might want to say a little bit by age as well, because this would be so helpful for parents, to just be aware of what's really going on with kids and tech at their various age groups.

 

Andrea Davis  9:37  

I love this question. Such a good question. So, I like the concept of doing this by age. So, let's look at just young children. So, ages five or six and younger. The biggest thing that has changed for this age group is the introduction of touch screens. So interactive screens. And when these came onto the scene, we as parents were told that this was necessary for our kids to adopt and use because if they didn't, they would fall behind educationally. And that technology was just, it's the next big thing that our kids need to be a part of. Well, fast forward, as parents started using, bringing in iPads and tablets and handing their little ones phones, they started to see tech tantrums. And this was beyond what we had seen when we just were turning a TV off. So, when kids are watching TV, and they're watching a show, a lot of times they don't want to turn it off. And there might be a bit of a tantrum. But when you try to pull an iPad away from like a three- or four-year-old, it goes to a whole other level. And as time has passed, scientists have done a lot of research on this. There's a great book called Reset Your Child's Brain by Dr. Victoria Dunkley. And she, they have specifically studied the difference between these interactive screens where we're touching the screen, and just watching a show on TV. And what happens is when young children, especially are engaging on these interactive screens, and they're swiping and touching, it's spiking the dopamine in their brain. So, it's very much, their heart will be faster, their brain will be moving faster, like everything, they're just that much more engaged. And at such a young age, they don't have the ability to regulate their time spent, their emotions and all these things, it's just way too much. And so, for parents of young children, that's the biggest problem that we're seeing. Is that it truly becomes a coping mechanism at such a young age that even when kids are going to the doctor with their parent, and they're getting a shot, or an immunization or whatever, and they're in pain, and they're feeling sad, what pediatricians have noticed is that parents used to hug their child to go console them and comfort them. But now quite often, they're seeing parents hand the child the device. And so, what's happening is, we're training our children from a young age, to turn to a device to be comforted, rather than turning to a parent or an adult for that comfort. And so, there are a couple of problems there.

 

Andrea Davis  12:37  

So, of course, like parents and children, like it's exhausting. And you know, especially once your kids kind of break out of that naptime. They quit taking a nap. And, but yeah, they don't maybe, don't go to school all day. And we might need a little bit of a break. And I tell parents, like there's nothing wrong with turning the TV on for a little bit. You pick a slow-paced moving show, like Mr. Rogers or Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, or even you know, there are some available today, things that aren't going to get them basically irregulated. So, they get overstimulated is what happens. And so, then it's just this vicious cycle where it's already hard to parent little ones, but then it becomes even more challenging, because you've got this touch and go, and then they're asking for the screen. So what little children need is play. And so, while technology has changed, what small children need has not changed, ever. They just need a caring adult who's with them that loves them, they need time to play, to explore, to engage with the real world. And so, hands down, like just keeping those touchscreens away from young children is going to be your best bet to avoid those tech tantrums and to protect their childhood. So that's really what I advocate for those younger children.

 

Andrea Davis  14:00  

Now as kids break into that, like six- or seven-year-old, and if they are attending public school, quite often, if they haven't been introduced to tech in the home, they're being introduced to tech at school at that age. So, I really recommend that starting at that point, parents start engaging in conversations about healthy tech use, but still really limiting the amount of time that those young children spend. Again, yes, they're older, they can regulate a little bit more, but they still don't have the ability to regulate the time they spend on a screen. And they still just mostly need a lot of those basic things like time to play, to move their body, to engage, to learn skills. And so, the American Academy of Pediatrics give some guidelines, but as kids get older, it's kind of more about balance and less about how much time is spent on the screen. But as parents, there really has to be time limits because the prefrontal cortex part of the brain that's responsible for decision making, and you probably know this Vonne, isn't fully developed until we're in our mid 20s. And so, to ask a child to regulate themselves on a device, and the time spent, is pretty much impossible for that reason. And also, because the big tech companies have made these apps as addicting as possible is the best way to put it. Because that's where money is made. And that's their job. Is to make it enticing, make it engaging. And so, you put together an undeveloped brain and a highly addictive tool, and you put those things together, and that's where we have created this problem. And I think what's challenging is that tech isn't all bad. There are a lot of good uses of tech. And so that's where we run into these challenges. But as kids get older and they're moving into adolescence, we do have to give them a little bit more freedom, but it has to be very guided. And we're there to walk them through and to take it very slow. So those are some things. I'll stop there.

 

Vonne Solis  16:19  

Yeah. I'm just listening to you because I get to compare raising two children without technology at all. And it's something - I'm not a grandparent, not yet. But it is, I think, something that those of us didn't have to struggle with these questions and these decisions about do you give your child, your baby, an iPhone to play with to occupy them while you need to do something else, or you're on an aircraft or something like that. I just didn't have to struggle with that. All our toys were the jumping thing and the reaching and everything, you know, was interactive and certainly with humans. I'm so glad you brought up the regulating. I do know a little bit about that from my own studies in terms of trauma. It makes me actually, and we probably don't have time to talk about it, but it does raise the question of, for me, whether children could be even traumatized at some point in their brains, depending on what they're being fed through apps, never mind just social media, but apps. And anyway, that's a conversation for another day.

 

Andrea Davis  17:45  

Yeah, no, I mean, that's fascinating. And definitely, they can be if they see the wrong type of content, for sure.

 

Vonne Solis  17:54  

Exactly. So, you also brought up, and this is just such a wonderful segue into my next question, is you brought up the need for conversation. You know, say from six up, but I also noticed from your information on your site that you teach people, parents how to, I'll just put it very succinctly, have that conversation. And I'm just wondering, are parents afraid to talk to their kids about what needs to be done? Discipline initiating a tech plan? Taking the stuff away? Do they lack like, how do they bring this conversation into the family and sort of segues into the next question, which is, do they lack confidence that they can control this, almost like a monster, in their kids’ lives? Yeah.

 

Andrea Davis  18:56  

Such a good question. There are a couple of things at play here. And this is based on my own experience and things that parents tell me. But one is, parents worry about their own tech use. So, they feel like, “How can I tell my kids what they should do, especially if they're older, when I'm on my phone a lot?”. That's something that we address in our course Creating a Tech Healthy Family. We help parents first with their tech habits. And that was where I had to start. I realized that taking my laptop into the bedroom and working late into the night was not healthy for me. But it also was really modeling poor tech habits for my growing kids. And so that's a habit I kicked five years ago, but I mean, I always took my laptop into the bedroom before that. And so, I think that that's one thing. Another thing is like you said, I think just maybe lacking confidence or feeling like they actually can make a difference. So many parents will say it's too late. It's too late for me. It's too late for our family. And I always like to say is never too late, never too early to prepare, and it's never too late to turn things around. And I truly believe that. I mean, we should never give up on our kids, no matter how old they are. And we should be willing to engage in that conversation. And it does take courage, it can be hard to admit that we've made a mistake as a parent. That we haven't perhaps had enough guidelines or guidance around this topic. But again, you know, I think, for parents just to show themselves some grace to realize that, you know, parents haven't had to navigate this before. That we're all learning together. And yeah, and then I think parents are worried that they're going to get some pushback, especially if their kids are older. And they probably will. I know we did. And that was even from a responsible kind, child. But it's uncomfortable to have to do things differently and to take a step back.

 

Andrea Davis  20:58  

And then I think the other issue is time. Parents, we feel like, ach, we just don't have time. That we have to make sure we're feeding our kids healthy food. That we signed the paper that had to go back to school. We're driving so and so to soccer practice. And so, in our minds, I think we convince ourselves, we don't have time to engage in this conversation. But what I've realized is that in the long run, it saves us so much time, because if you can be proactive and make a family tech plan and engage in these conversations ahead of time, then in the moments when kids are like, "No, I want to download this video game" or "I want to spend another hour chatting with my friends" or whatever it is, then you get to go back to that family tech plan. Those conversations that you had, and like, "No, look, we talked about this, and this is why like now it's time to go get outside and go ride your bike", or "let's make dinner" or you know, bringing the kids into what you're doing. Again, we just feel like we don't have time to have those conversations. But I promise, a 20-minute conversation ahead of the problem will save you so much time and heartache.

 

Vonne Solis  22:13  

That's great. And actually, you answered my next question, which was going to be about busyness. And you really answered that beautifully. And I can relate to that. But what I will add to that is two things I'm curious about. When you implement or create tech plans for families, and then it's their job to implement it, of course, I'm very curious. I maybe have three, but we'll see about that. So, I'm very curious about one, at the point that the parent comes to you and says we need help. In the context of what you just said about there's a group of parents out there also that say it's too late for us. So, at the point that they come to you, what are they most struggling with or worried about? I'll leave it at two questions. My second question is, do you encourage families and age-appropriate children, to agree to the tech plan as well so that it becomes a very family type contract?

 

Andrea Davis  23:23  

Great questions. So, the problem that I see typically when parents are coming and saying, "Oh, it's too late", is that their child or teen has disengaged from the family. Like, they would rather be in their room playing video games or on social media or watching YouTube than coming down for dinner or going to the park with the family or on a bike ride. That's one issue. The other issue is just something bad has happened. So, either they've discovered that their son has been looking at pornography for three years and they never knew it, and that it's become very consuming and a problem. And so, something like that, or they find that their child's being cyber bullied or engaging in conversations online with people, with strangers. And so, it can be just those red flags where the child is disengaging from the family. And really, there's that lack of connection between the parent and the child. Or they found something. They've discovered something that they didn't know about. Either they found it, or the child came and told them, and so that's not a great feeling. And then to answer your second question, yeah, so as far as creating a family tech plan. When we had this experience with our daughter, I kind of panicked. I did panic. And so, I started looking for resources online and there were a lot of like, pre-made family media plans you could just print out. I won't say a lot, but there were some. Again, this was five years ago. And then there were just a lot of other people's rules. And that was helpful for me to just kind of get an idea of where we needed to start.

 

Andrea Davis  25:21  

But what I did then is I talked to my husband, and then I just laid all the rules out to the kids, and they were like, glazed over, shoulder shrugging, like, "Wow, mom is really like panicking about nothing". And again, so then I realized, "Oh, wow, okay, so I'm parenting from a place of fear right now". And that's never good to parent from that place. And it took doing that for me to learn that instead, we needed to make these decisions together as a family. So, I could still bring all that knowledge and research that I had discovered and found, and also my own inspiration as a parent, like ideas that I had. I could bring that to the table. But what needed to happen instead was a conversation with my spouse, and with the kids all together, about what our family tech plan should look like. And so that's really what we started and what I share on our website, and both - we have a discussion guide on Amazon where I guide parents through that, and then our course kind of is taking it to the next level where I'm helping. Really do a lot more hand holding, and I include the research and that kind of stuff, because I couldn't, I really couldn't find that out there and it just felt like that's what was lacking. But yeah, getting the kids on board is so important, because then there's buy in. And that's really important.

 

Vonne Solis  26:43  

Yeah, I wanted to follow up a little bit on that, because when you talk, I think it's great getting kids buy in, and I think that, you know, I was raised, having deep conversations, well, mostly with my mom. And she's passed now, but you know, she always - I remember vividly as a child, we would talk about something I maybe was complaining about or wanted to do, and we would talk about the consequences. And then she would let me choose. And although maybe some of my decisions were a little risky, I never got myself into trouble. And I think it had to do with that feeling of being able to choose. I mean, obviously there would have been oversight. But today's world, it's like, it could be really scary. But I love what you said about you decided to change from parenting in fear to parenting from a place of connection and empowerment.

 

Andrea Davis  27:41  

Confidence! 

 

Vonne Solis  27:42  

Sure, confidence and empowerment for you and the kids. So today, I know your children range in various ages. So, what are the ages of your kids again, what is the age range Andrea?

 

Andrea Davis  27:56  

Oldest is 17. Then I have a 14-year-old, a 12-year-old, a 10-year-old and a seven-year-old. Four girls and one boy. My boy is the 10-year-old. 

 

Vonne Solis  28:08  

Oh, wow. So, do you notice a difference in tech use between boys and girls? That's interesting.

 

Andrea Davis  28:16  

Yes, you know, not only as much in my own home, but as I talk to other parents. In general, as kids get older boys tend to gravitate more toward video games and girls more towards social media. And that's just, I think the girls tend to want that connection and they like the photos and all of that. And the boys like competitiveness and that's how they like to get together with their friends. You know, that being said, we don't do video games in our home. And my son is okay with that. I know it's how many of his peers are interacting and engaging. And so sometimes, that can be a little bit of a lonely road. But it's a choice that we've made together as a family, and he doesn't really care so much. That might not always be the way, but right now he's really into plants, and outside and art and he just has other interests. And so, for me, I've just tried to really grow those interests and try to, get him to be interested in those things and give him opportunities to do those things. And we just don't talk about the video games. But I will say that girls, yeah, and with the girls, it's like, oh, I want to get online and look for clothes. That's what it is for my teenage girls. So, there's just different things that they want to do online. I think boys, it's definitely more like YouTube and watching cool videos of people doing amazing things on YouTube. It's just, they do. They engage in different ways for sure. Yeah.

 

Vonne Solis  29:53  

Yeah. So, I was going to ask you, we're coming to the end of what we're going to talk about, but it's been so interesting. So, I was going to ask what, I mean I know it's probably on the one hand different for each family. But on another hand, it's you know, very general. Everybody is struggling basically with the same problems, maybe just in different ways. But the same threats are out there. There might be different levels of exposure that parents are allowing their children. But I wanted to ask you, probably one of my last questions is, what can - I was going to ask you personally, what you do to continue to monitor your kids' habits, but if not on a personal level, what could you share with parents who are listening to this and even are just starting to think, "Geez, I really need to, I really need to get on top of this. It's not too late." But the kids are going to be exposed continuously to different stimuli, and just different things that they'll probably know about faster than their parents. And so, what is it you do or can recommend parents do even with a tech plan. A family tech plan and without one, to really keep on top of it? And so, I was actually really curious what you do to monitor your own kids. You all have this amazing buy-in to a family tech plan. But how do you monitor that they're sticking to it?

 

Andrea Davis  31:25  

Yes, so when we created our family tech plan, we created some boundaries to help everybody. And one of those things is keeping screens out of bedrooms and bathrooms. And honestly, if parents just want to do one thing to help everyone's habits, I'd say start there. Because you just bring so much safety to your child's life by implementing that, because using screens in isolation, can be a dangerous road. And because as you know, there's so much sitting on the other side of the screen. And so that's one thing that's been helpful for us, especially when the pandemic started, and my older kids were all doing online school. They did that for a year here in Oregon, which was a long time. And I was so grateful we had that family tech plan in place ahead of time because nobody was ever trying to take their iPad into the bedroom. Everybody was out here in the common areas, and we just use headphones. And my husband was home working too. So, there was seven of us. And we have a small house. So, it wasn't like - we were all pretty much right here, but we just used our headphones. And my kids didn't even put up a fight because they just knew that's what we do. And so that's helpful, because I kind of can see what people are doing on their screen, because they're always out in the open or they know that I could. And we've had that discussion, like, you know, it's not, "Oh, I don't trust you. It's that I don't trust the internet, and that I have a responsibility. I'm your parent". And so, that's one thing that we do, using screens out in the open. Another thing is just setting up parental controls on each device. We have a griffin router that we love that does filtering, but also, we turn the Wi Fi off every night at 10:30. And that helps me too, to not be on my device, because it can be tempting to be like, "I'm gonna stay up and work" when everybody's in bed. But that's not what I need either. And so that helps me keep in check too. Everybody knows Wi Fi is shutting off at 10:30. And that just happens. So, setting up, using your tech to help you is a good idea too. Because then it's like we've all decided on this, and you don't have to be the one policing it all the time.

 

Andrea Davis  33:53  

And then just choosing safer devices as well. So, my seventh and eighth grader use what's called a gab phone and it looks and acts like a smartphone. But it has no internet access on it. Like there's no apps or nothing. So, it just can call. It can text. Has a calculator, has a calendar. Just those very basic things. And so, choosing your tech wisely and knowing that there are kid-safe options now, rather than just being like, "Well, I guess they need an iPhone because that's what we do now". And so that's one thing. And then I think the last thing I would say is just having these conversations regularly.

 

Andrea Davis  34:32  

So, my oldest teen is 17. She has limited access to social media. She has Instagram and there's a limit that I've set up on screen time through Apple. It's 30 minutes a day. That's all she gets. I follow her. She follows me. And I haven't allowed any other apps on there. And that's simply because it's the app that I'm most familiar with. It was one that she was requesting. And so, I was okay with that. I did not allow her to get TikTok, however, and we had a conversation the other day about how her calculus teacher had made this TikTok video. He's actually a really good dancer, and how she had circumvented the boundaries that I had set up on screen time to be able to watch this video. So even though she didn't have TikTok on her device, she has like Google Hangouts, and she was able to put the link in there and open the link from there. Anyway, that's the thing, is that there are loopholes to everything, and kids will get around them. But she told me. She told me what she did. And then she showed me the video and it was not bad. Again, it was her calculus teacher. It was fine. But I thanked her for telling me. I said I didn't know that that was possible. I always know there's loopholes. And so, I thanked her for telling me. And I said, let's you know, be mindful of that. And could you just ask next time before you've just tried to get around this. And then my kids also know that, well, I can look at their devices at any time. And that's another conversation we've had. I said, you know, we want to think that our online life is private. It's not. If you want to keep yourself from your parents, please realize that anything that went wrong, the cops, the school, Google, could confiscate that information and have that information. And I mean, I'm sure you know this. And so, I told them as a parent, I should know, first. I should be the first one to know. And I know I'm not going to know everything. It's impossible, but we just, you know, it's just a conversation that we keep having. And then I don't ever try to sneak looking at their phone. Like, let's sit down with my oldest, who does have a little bit more freedom, "like let's look through your texts together". And I think that's good. It's just a good way to have the conversation together. So, yeah.

 

Vonne Solis  37:05  

I love, I love everything you've said, and you've given the listeners, viewers, so much to incorporate, without even, you know, or I should say before going to your website, which is betterscreentime.com. Where you have loads of resources, online courses, downloads for cheat sheets and so many other resources, Andrea. It's amazing. And I encourage every parent, again, listening or watching this, to go to your site, which I'll put in the link below as well. And you can get again, so much information from that. 

 

Vonne Solis  37:47  

I love that you just shared turning your Wi Fi off. Parents listening out there, turning your Wi Fi off at a specific time every night. I have never heard anyone do that before. That is amazing. And if I had young kids, I would absolutely be doing that. Absolutely amazing. And I love the fact, I personally have not heard of a gab phone, but it sounds like you're very familiar with alternates to the iPhone. And you know, and again, limiting the social media to one that you pick together. I absolutely love that. Following each other. 

 

Vonne Solis  38:24  

I think when for me, what it boils down to, even the best communication and the best connection you can have, things can still go wrong, and they do go wrong. And trust me as a parent who's lost a child, again, even in the height of no internet, I mean, well, we had internet, but none of the stuff we have today, you know, there was still a way to download music. There's still a way to get in the dark web. There's still a way that these loopholes, they find them. And so, I do want to say that for parents out there who are worried, who think it's too late. For some of us, it is too late to go back and change anything. But having said that, I don't want anyone (my message would be) to beat yourself up as a parent for everything. As they say, we do the best we can with the knowledge we have. So, it's all about just continuing to acquire knowledge. Be invested. Keep the communication lines open.

 

Vonne Solis  39:34  

I'm a big believer in allowing children at various ages to have a certain level of autonomy, but as the oversight, as a guardian, you know, sort of discuss what the options could bring. The consequences of choices could bring. And so that's what I could sort of throw in. And as I said, I'm not having to deal with these issues. But if I was a grandparent, I would be. And if my son's listening, no, I'm just kidding, I'm just kidding. But anyway, this has been just so informative, Andrea, and I want to just thank you so much for sharing all that you have today on this podcast. And I know that your work is so helpful to so many people. I also know you are a speaker, so anybody out there that wants to contact you, they can get all your information about that on your website, correct?

 

Andrea Davis  40:33  

Yes.

 

Vonne Solis  40:34  

Excellent. All right. Well, I'm going to wrap this up, because I think we've given people so much information to work with just from our short conversation, and I'm certainly more well informed about what is going on out there. And so, parents you need to protect your kids. Andrea is a wonderful resource to go and learn from and get knowledge. So, thanks again Andrea. It's been wonderful talking with you.

 

Andrea Davis  41:01  

Oh, thank you so much Vonne. It was my pleasure.

 

Vonne Solis  41:04  

Okay, talk soon.